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How to Draw the Ear – Tutorial

September 16, 2009


Here is the long awaited tutorial on how to draw the ear! This follows the basic structure of my other tutorials, which include the eyes, nose, and mouth. For further reading, I also have a post that outlines some general tips for drawing ears. For clarification on any of the terms or techniques you see in this tutorial, click on the links!

Here is the reference we will be using. You’ll notice that the photo is crisp, and that there is a good range of lights and darks.  I’ve used CorelDraw to make the grid lines, but you can also do it by hand.



Start by drawing your grid and transfering your image. Use a harder pencil at this stage so it’s easier to erase later. The ear is a delicate structure and it requires delicate drawing. Pay close attention to the lines and curves. Remember to outline not only the contours of the ear, but also the major shadows and highlights. Make your highlights bigger than you want them to be so that you can blend into them without disturbing the white of the paper.



Carefully erase your gridlines and use your B pencil to shade in the midtone values. This is everything but the darkest shadows and the highlights. With ears, it’s especially important to be aware of your edges. Some edges are very sharp and others are very soft.



Go back in with your B pencil again and build up another layer of darker midtones. You don’t really need to press any harder, just gradually add graphite until it becomes darker. Don’t worry about the hair at this point; leave it for the last.



Next, use a 2B pencil to shade in the darkest shadows. Make sure you blend the shadows into the midtones. You don’t want a hard line where one meets the other. On the other hand, areas where there is a cast shadow will have a hard edge. Look closely at your reference to find the hard and soft edges.  At this point you can shade in the hair, but before you do, use an H pencil (or harder) to draw a few highlights. This will indent the paper and you won’t be able to shade over top.



Now get out your blending stick and start smoothing out your shading. Work from light to dark and make sure that you blend out any hard edges that shouldn’t be there.



The last step is the finishing touches. These include using your kneaded eraser to re-define highlights. Make sure they’re the right shape, in the right place, and blended properly. Some highlights are very sharp while others fade off gradually. You may also need to use your 2B again to define some edges and deepen shadows. For the hair, use a very sharp 4B and draw with quick flicks of your wrist. The lines you made with the hard pencil show through as highlights on single strands of hair.



Voila! There you have your ear! Don’t forget to check out some of my other tutorials… have a great day!


From → Drawing, Tutorials

  1. Miranda, this is an amazing tutorial. I love the way you create these logical approaches to drawing – amazingly your approach is very design-like which is so familiar to me (my prior life). I became so inundated with drawing accurate interiors the process of representational drawing became a real burden to me, so I ran in the opposite direction. Now, you are encouraging me to maybe go back to a little bit of that for myself.

    Thanks Miranda!

  2. Hi MIranda, I agree with Kim, this is a great tutorial, thanks for sharing this process here.

    I already wanted to comment the other day, but hadn’t found out how to do that, silly me! Thanks so much for your comment on my blog…

    Have a great weekend

    • Thanks Kim and Andrea! It’s time consuming but it’s also rewarding. Representational drawing is really calming for me because I can get totally absorbed with it on a very intimate level. It’s a completely different experience from my abstract paintings, which is more of a large and outgoing process. It’s hard to explain, but each is necessary!

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